'...not just the premier
Christian bioethics institute in Britain,
but one of the finest in the
world, Christian or secular'
Most Rev. Anthony Fisher O.P., Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney
IVF and Justice:
Moral, Social and Legal lssues related to
Human in vitro
Introduction: The In Vitro Conceptus and Justice
1. A Basic Ethic for Man's Well-being:
Conscience and the New Scientific Possibilities
I Conscience and science
II The new IVF technology: a brief history
III The Hippocratic perspective and the human conceptus
IV Can there be a 'simple case' of IVF?
V Conclusion: three general moral principles
2. IVF: Ethical Issues and Social Implications
I Setting the scene: central questions and problems
II Fundamental truths to be recognised: of moral order, of biological
III Aims and means of IVF: what is permissible, what is desirable:
(i) Embryology for its own sake?
(ii) Generation of 'spare embryos'?
(iii) Grave risk of harm or death for those conceived by IVF?
(1) The well-being of the child
(2) Truth and social responsibility
3. IVF: The Basic Issue
I Major issues
II The moral evaluation
III The nature of the human embryo: development into a person or development
of a person?
IV What is morally desirable
4. The Human Being and the Right Not to be Killed
I A controversial distinction: 'human beings' and 'human persons'
II Human desires and human rights
III Human nature and human rights
IV The right not to be killed
V Civil authority and human rights
5. What Kind of Being is the Human Embryo?
I The concept of the human embryo
II The Warnock Report's question: How is it right to treat the human
III Two false theoretical frameworks: mechanistic Darwinism and Cartesian
IV The wholeness of the living being; twinning and recombination
V Philosophy and the truths of Christian faith
6. Death and the Beginning of Life
I The controversy concerning criteria for 'being dead' and for 'being
II 'Brain death' as the basic criterion for death: physiological facts
III Philosophical considerations:
(i) 'The organism as a whole'
(ii) Death: an irreversible state
(iii) The irreversible loss of function and capacity
(iv) A definition of death
IV Death and conception compared
V Three concluding remarks
7. European Legislation on Questions concerning Artificial Insemination:
A Report made to the European Parliament
I The essential significance of 'artificial insemination':
(i) The child newly conceived
(ii) Human parenting
II Human conception following technical interventions
III Moral Questions
IV Moral criteria
V The current trend: a fundamental principle of justice is being abandoned
VI Criteria for determining 'full humanness'
VII Conclusions and recommendation
"I would strongly recommend
this book, both for the clarity of its style and for the persuasiveness
of its arguments."
- Dr Petroc
" [Dr Iglesias] has asked the question
- what is the status of the human embryo, and how should it be treated,
- and answered it convincingly.
This is a philosophical
book but easily understood by doctors or scientists. It is written
in the classic tradition of natural law with surprisingly few appeals to
Theology or Doctrine. One of its surprising strengths... is the fairness
with which contrary views are stated."
- Dr Anthony Cole,
Medical Quarterly Nov 1991
"This book provides a detailed
examination of several of the moral issues raised by in vitro fertilisation.
Its primary concern is with those moral questions raised by the status of
the very early embryo. Most of the argumentation in the book is for the
conclusion that the human embryo, from conception, is a person. The practical
implication of this conclusion is that lVF does not, and as a practical
matter cannot, respect the embryo as a person and so must be judged morally
The first two chapters deal with general questions in medical ethics, and
with the medical reality and ethos of IVF......The most interesting and
novel part of this discussion is the author's persuasive argument that there
cannot be a simple case of IVF in which the standard moral objections are
Underlying the conclusions of these early chapters is the conviction that
the early embryo is a person. The author's arguments for that conviction
are developed at length in the remaining five chapters. Two sorts of argument
are presented: criticisms of the positions which deny that the embryo is
a person from conception, and a constructive account of why the early embryo
is correctly judged to be a human individual, and of why all living humans
are persons. The critical discussion of the variations on the view that
the early embryo is not a person contains little that is completely new.
But it is a helpful and competent analysis. It is helpful because it addresses
virtually all the objections to the view that the embryo is a person from
conception, and states these objections clearly and fairly. Much of the
argumentation is philosophical, but the author carefully avoids the analytic
technicalities and obscurity of much philosophical writing. The author does
a particularly good job of laying bare the philosophical assumptions behind
the central objections: the mind/body dualism underlying the Lockean view
of the person as a self-conscious being is exposed and criticized effectively;
the reductionistic mechanistism implicit in much of the philosophical and
scientific literature on the beginning of human life is identified for what
it is, and the questionable assumptions behind the prevalent view of rights
which limits the possession of rights to the actual pretence of desires
and interests are effectively addressed.
The competence of the critical discussion is most evident in the author's
replies to objections. Her answers, though not all equally compelling, are
carefully spelled out and abound with common sense. Her response to the
objection based on the belief that the natural wastage of embryos is at
least as great as that involved in IVF is a good example: nature is not
a moral agent but we are.
The critical discussion of opposed views culminates in a capable dissection
of the common analogy between the beginning and the end of life. The analogy
is that just as we all now believe that brain death is the end of a person's
life, so we should also be willing to believe that there is no life before
brain activity exists. Iglesias explains why brain death constitutes the
end of a person's life and thus shows that brain death properly understood
does not have the implication the analogy suggests but instead provides
evidence that conception is the beginning of a person's life. For when the
whole brain is incapable of further function, the organism cannot function
as a whole and so dies (that is why brain death constitutes death of the
organism), whereas in the case of the developing embryo there is organic
functioning of the whole before brain activity exists, indeed from conception
In short, although not a definitive treatment of the issues it discusses,
this book is a solid contribution to the literature. It provides an excellent
introduction to the issues, and will repay thoughtful study. It is a good
example of the serious, traditional moral analysis which is being promoted
by the Linacre Centre in London."
- Joseph Boyle,
Linacre Quarterly Vol 58, in Aug
"...a concise and well researched work, once again
makes a constructive contribution to the ethical dilemmas that surround
IVF. ... The author commences by proving ... that the conceptus is ontologically
(i.e. in its being and nature) morally and legally a person - 'one like
us', in his or her embryonic stage. Therefore, the practice of lVF cannot
be practiced without committing grave injustices against many new human
beings. Various opinions that are currently held with regard to the moral
status of the embryo, such as potentiality and the distinction between human
being and human person are rigorously analyzed and found to be invalid.
The final chapter is an excellent summary of the technology and practice
of lVF, legal/medical codes and the moral/ethical discussion. "